Early on in the COVID-19 state of emergency, The Federation team decided that one of the best ways we could serve our members and the community social services sector as a whole would be to facilitate the flow of information, updates, and resources to and from organizations in the sector.
We know there is a lot of communication coming across your desks each and every day. But we also know that many of you are still left with important unanswered questions in spite of this. It can be hard to know whether you’ve just missed a key piece of information or whether that information simply does not exist! A lot of us are experiencing this feeling—a lack of certainty and understanding—and it comes on top of the stress, worry, and exhaustion I know many of you are also dealing with.
So today I want to share some key pieces of information from the past weeks that we at The Federation believe may be useful as you and your teams develop go-forward plans for your organizations. Below are details about pandemic pay, protection against liability, children and youth, and incorporating an Indigenous lens in your go-forward plans.
Altogether better… and safer
To date, The Federation has been very intentional about only sharing public health information that has been vetted in some way by BC’s Office of the Public Health Officer and/or the BC Centre for Disease Control. In times like this, it is vital that we not contribute to confusion or misinformation.
A few weeks ago, we talked about the need for certainty in uncertain times and offered a reminder that this sector in particular is well-prepared for dealing with the chaos and complexity we’re facing because in many ways that’s what you do every day. It may feel overwhelming at times, but every single day for the past few months this sector has shown up for our clients and community members. And that has not gone unnoticed.
As the go-forward phase continues, you will receive guidance documents and you will receive both solicited and unsolicited advice. You may feel pressure from your funders, from your community members, and from your staff teams. Whatever comes next, The Federation will be here to support you however we can. Your fellow members will be here to support you. We will continue to face this and move forward together. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
BC’s Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has given us all good words that can help to guide us in the coming weeks and months. Be kind. Be calm. Be safe.
Rebecca Ataya Lang
Associate Executive Director
1: Reconciliation & Resurgence
The Federation’s commitment to living into reconciliation and resurgence needs to show up in our responses to COVID-19. The ways in which our community members experience the risks of COVID-19 and the impacts of public health measures are not always the same. History reminds us that past pandemics have wiped out entire Indigenous communities and the legacy of this history is still felt to this very day.
So as you develop your own go-forward plans, incorporating a reconciliation lens and an anti-poverty lens will help to reduce the additional harm and unnecessary barriers your clients and community members may face as we make our way through this pandemic. Here are some resources that may be useful to you.
- MCFD’s Aboriginal Policy and Practice Framework.
- The First Nations Health Authority newsletter is highlighting work being done in the community, timely health messages, and the healing power of culture.
- This implicit bias exercise is one that we’ve done in many of our Leadership 2020 cohorts as a bias self-assessment. It can help you consider your own actions and understand your own implicit biases.
The following books were highly recommended by our Reconciliation Book Club members and contain valuable history, stories, and insights.
- Indigenous Writes by Chelsea Vowel
- Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith
- The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
2: Children and COVID-19
As you prepare to do more face-to-face time with children and families, many of you have raised concerns about managing the public health guidelines with children and youth. One very helpful resource you can access is the recording of the call MCFD did with Dr. Behn Smith from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
While the call was focused on the specific context of in-person visits for young people in care, the vast majority of the information shared would be useful to anyone doing work with children and youth. You can view the recording here and you can access the slides here.
3: Protection Against Liability
On April 2nd, Minister Farnworth brought forward a Ministerial Order that provides liability protection as it relates to the transmission of COVID-19 as a result of a person operating or providing an essential service. We have confirmed that the social services sector is included under the order. Please click the link and read the order carefully in full. (Not just this very brief summary!)
4: Pandemic Pay
Information about how to access the “Pandemic Pay” that was announced on May 21 is still forthcoming. The government is still working out the details of eligibility and the process by which organizations will be able to access the funds. Do not be alarmed if your local contacts or contract manager do not have any details—they do not yet have the information either.
While we are very glad community social services have been included in the pandemic pay eligibility, we know that there are still a lot of questions about who is eligible and who isn’t. We are also concerned about the groups that we have been told are ineligible—including childcare staff, programs not funded by the provincial government, and management positions.
We believe this will add to the inequity that is already present in the community sector and we have been advocating wherever we have the opportunity to make sure that this is understood. As soon as we have more information about Pandemic Pay and/or eligibility we will share it with you.